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Five tequila drinks for Cinco de Mayo

Arianna Auber

I have nothing against margaritas. They have been the drink of choice at many of my family gatherings and, if made just right with a little salt on the rim, serve as the perfect antidote to Texas’ blazing heat. But its base spirit, tequila, can pair with so much more than lime juice and Triple Sec. In honor of Cinco de Mayo — a Mexican holiday that celebrates the Mexicans’ victory over the invading French in 1862 — here is a list of five tequila drinks at Austin bars that aren’t margaritas (or, for that matter, aren’t Mexican Martinis).

(Margaritas, by the way, aren’t the top tequila drink in Mexico. There, people are more likely to order a paloma, which features grapefruit soda or grapefruit juice with tequila.)

Whisler’s Hedge Trimmer: Don’t let the bright pink color of this spring cocktail fool you into thinking it’ll go down sweet and fruity. It’s actually got a nice serrano bite that burns so good, thanks to one of Whisler’s house-made syrups.

Swift’s Attic’s Are Vee Dub: Tequila and coffee might not seem like an obvious — or even particularly good — pairing, but in this case, with Tequila Avión Espresso, vanilla-infused Tito’s Vodka and a nitro stout, they make for a tasty liquid dessert.

Haymaker’s Pleasant Valley Lemonade: Another unlikely combination (in a place more known for its beer selection than its cocktails), this simple drink with a strawberry-and-ginger-infused tequila and lemon juice shows off the merits of using lemons in cocktails. And while we’re in the midst of having lime prices skyrocket, that’s only a good thing.

Clive Bar’s Zapatista: Pineapple and lime juice are common ingredients in a margarita, but the Zapatista is a little more complex, with Yellow Chartreuse, a mild liqueur, and cinnamon simple syrup added for a kick of sweet spice.

Peche’s Lucha Mule: After one of the Peche bartenders returned from a trip to Mexico, he wanted to add tamarind, a Mexican candy rolled in chile powder, into a cocktail. An earthy, tart flavor, the tamarind mixes with tequila, jalapeños, ginger beer and lime juice in the form of a syrup. You’ll catch that tartness first, followed by the spice of the ginger beer and the heat of the jalapeños.

This post is part of Austin360’s “Tacos and Tequila” project. Look out for the taco segment both online and in print on Friday.